Ordinance mandates signs for projects

Millstone seeking to propose strict standards on signs (Jan. 12)

By: Lauren Burgoon
   MILLSTONE — Residents would have an easier job identifying sites of proposed housing and commercial developments — and knowing how and where to weigh in on the projects — with new regulations under consideration by the Township Committee.
   Under the proposed ordinance, developers would have to post large signs along the road at potential development sites when the project is scheduled for hearings before the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment.
   The signs, which would be between 32 and 64 square feet, would have to detail the project’s scope, such as the number and type of housing units or the nature of warehouses being sought, hearing dates and a phone number for residents to seek additional information.
   The regulations, which were unanimously introduced Jan. 4 and are up for a public hearing and final vote on Feb. 1, would only apply to major subdivisions, or larger-scale projects.
   Millstone is seeking to impose strict standards on the signs. The proposed ordinance mandates only black and white lettering and placement in a prominent spot on the property. Developers could not use any language such as "coming soon" or "future site of" that implies the project already has the necessary approvals in place. The signs would have to stay up until the boards grant or deny final approval.
   Committeeman Elias Abilheira said the "excellent" ordinance would provide an additional layer of clarity about proposed projects. Currently developers only have to put information in newspapers, which often ends up in small print in the legal notice section, and notify nearby residents by mail.
   "When people are going home at night or going to work in the morning or going to the store, they’ll be able to see something is going to happen here … We can throw this into our arsenal as well and make sure the public is better notified," he said.
   Committeeman Steve Sico is exploring an additional measure that would expand the required notification range for residents living near proposed projects. Current notification varies depending on the project. Those who receive notification are sent a letter with the project proposal and public hearing dates. In addition to increased notification ranges, Millstone officials also are considering posting the project information on the town’s public access channel and Web site.
   More notification in a sprawling town like Millstone could be especially important, Mr. Sico said. The town’s large lot sizes can mean only one or two nearby residents are notified of an impending project even if the construction could affect the entire neighborhood.
   "I think it’s important to provide additional notification to those who may have an interest or concern on an application for the zoning board or Planning Board," said Mr. Sico, who is also a Planning Board member. "Everyone who has a concern has a right to be heard."